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put out feelers

Discreetly try to learn something, as in They put out feelers to see if anyone was interested in buying the company. This idiom alludes to an animal's feelers, such as antennae or tentacles, used to find food. [ First half of 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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